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‘Reign of terror:’ He locked men in motel bathrooms, then raped the women, NJ judge says

Rasheed Powell, 43, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, was sentenced to nearly 150 years in prison after prosecutors said he broke into couples’ motel rooms, made them have sex, locked the men in the bathroom and raped the women.
Rasheed Powell, 43, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, was sentenced to nearly 150 years in prison after prosecutors said he broke into couples’ motel rooms, made them have sex, locked the men in the bathroom and raped the women. New Jersey Department of Corrections

He was watching as the couples checked into motels along the highway in Elizabeth and Linden, New Jersey, according to prosecutors.

Rasheed Powell, 43, would then show up at their doors at night, push his way inside and make the couples have sex at gunpoint, according to Union County prosecutors. After that, Powell would banish the men — locking them in the motel bathrooms so he could rape the women, still armed with his gun, prosecutors said.

During the assaults, Powell toyed with and “psychologically tortured” his victims, both male and female, prosecutors said. He said he would kill their families if they told police what he’d done. He also made the women “loudly compliment him” so their male companions could hear, according to prosecutors.

When one male victim broke out of the motel room through a window, Powell said to the woman in the room that “your friend left you for me,” NJ.com reports.

Powell’s assaults lasted six weeks, beginning in March 2012, prosecutors said. He victimized four couples.

Speaking at Powell’s sentencing on Thursday, Judge Robert Kirsch said Powell’s crimes created an “incomprehensible hell” for his victims. Kirsch sentenced Powell to 148 years behind bars.

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Powell had been convicted of 60 crimes in March following an eight-week trial, prosecutors said. His convictions included 24 counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, 12 counts of second-degree sexual assault, 12 weapons offenses, eight counts of first-degree robbery and four counts of second-degree burglary.

“Your reign of terror ends here, now,” Kirsch said in court.

But prosecutors said that, for the victims at least, the impact will be lasting.

“The terror they lived through in those motel rooms stayed with them for years afterward,” prosecutor Caroline Lawlor said in a news release. “I can think of no more heinous crime than what was inflicted upon these eight individuals.”

DNA evidence and other forensics are what ultimately nabbed Powell, according to prosecutors. Police in Elizabeth and Linden, as well as Union County deputies, prosecutors and police, all investigated the case and identified Powell as the suspect.

A sexual assault evidence kit contains forensic evidence gathered from a victim's body during an intrusive, hours-long examination. Testing kits can find DNA evidence used to identify rapists, boost prosecutions or exonerate the falsely accused.

As Powell responded to a traffic summons in court in April 2012, he was arrested. He was held in jail on $3 million dollar bail after that.

Four victims — two men and two women — spoke out at Powell’s sentencing.

One woman said she can’t go out after dark following Powell’s attack on her and her college sweetheart, whom she has since married, according to prosecutors.

“I lost so much of myself, I didn’t even recognize what was left of me,” she said, according to prosecutors.

Powell spoke at the sentencing, too — and denied that he had anything to do with the crimes.

“In due time proof will come out,” Powell said in court, according to the Bridgewater Courier News. “I’m innocent.”

Kirsch disputed that, pointing to the “overwhelming” evidence that Powell was the perpetrator, the newspaper reports. Powell’s girlfriend gave authorities the jacket and mask that had been used in the crimes, Kirsch said. Powell’s DNA was also a match with DNA from a rape kit, and he was identified by five of the eight victims.

East area rapist survivors, including Jane Carson-Sandler of Sun City and Margaret Wardlow, talk about seeing suspect Joseph James DeAngelo for the first time on Thursday, July 12, 2018.

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